International Women’s Day & Kundalini Yoga
I am seeking balance. As a development worker, International Women’s Day (IWD) was often a hectic time. From attending high level events at the UN Headquarters, presenting on prestigious panels, briefing US Congresswomen, taking helicopters to celebrate the day in small villages in Afghanistan, to hosting bespoke events in the United Arab Emirates, IWD always reflected my current job, responsibilities and yearly commitment to women. Whilst my commitment to supporting gender equity is never ending. This year is vastly different and so is my approach.
What is IWD?
IWD is celebrated on March 8th and is day dedicated to raise awareness, celebrate women, and galvanize continuous support for women around the world. Founded on 28 February 1909, during the labor rights movement in New York, IWD was later recognized by the UN in 1975, and March 8thbecame the official date for celebration.
IWD is celebrated in many countries and in many different ways. This year’s IWD theme, Balance for Better, recognizes that a more gender-balanced world creates a better working world. The 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign runs all year long and calls for everyone, everywhere to play their part to stimulate collective action for change. Whilst IWD themes continue to evolve and reflect the zeitgeist of the time, recent global movements, such as “HeforShe,” #MeToo, and “Times Up,” continue to reflect the urgency for change and the need for global transformation on gender relations, equity and women’s rights.
However, this year I kept asking myself, “how can we create a world which underscores the importance of gender balance in board rooms, community programs, and in leaders, when we as individuals are not balanced ourselves?”
Are we balanced?
People are unhealthy, unhappy, and killing each other and themselves. Major depression and suicide continue to rise around the world, and according to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15–29 year-olds. Obesity and other chronic diseases are also expected to increase by 57% by the year 2020. And in the US, hate crimes have also continued to rise from 2016. For there to be any true recognition of the importance of gender balance in the world, we must find balance within first. But things are beginning to shift slowly.
Whilst the statistics can be startling and the media can instill fear, there is also a simultaneous global shift. More and more organizations, communities and countries begin to recognize the importance of wellness as a cornerstone for healthy and happy living. For example, more yoga centers are popping up around major global cities and major companies, such as Google, Apple, and Nike, are approaching mindfulness programs as a foundation for staff care which have proven to improve the bottom line.
One yogic practice that continues to gain momentum around the world is, Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Not only is it used to help treat war veterans of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it is also used by CEOs to help manage stress and make better business decisions. It is a tool I have used over the past five years to help navigate my own life; to deal with trauma, manage the stresses of new jobs and career changes, to build new relationships, and to create a family. It has bought balance to all facets of my life.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini Yoga is the yoga awareness. Taught by Yogi Bhajan for the first time publicly during the 1970’s in California, the practice raises individual, collective and universal consciousness through meditations and kriyas (a series of movements/postures) and brings balance to the mind, body and soul. The technology of Kundalini Yoga helps us to understand ourselves better and deal with daily stress with grace and acceptance.
In a globalized, fast-paced, and information driven culture, the demands on the brain and nervous system have never been as great as they are today.3In response to these new demands, yoga and meditation are incredible tools to remain healthy, happy and balanced. It is only when we operate from a more neutral state of mind that we are able to make conscious decisions and support others throughout all echelons of society.
Kundalini Yoga and Women
Kundalini Yoga also recognizes the important role that women possess in every community and culture and much of Yogi Bhajan’s time was dedicated to teaching women. Through Kundalini Yoga, women develop their physical strength and inner radiance, so that they could serve and be a light to the world. It helps cultivate creativity, community, and transparency in all of us and facilitates a world that embraces gender balance.
It is a timeless technology that helps elevate both men and women to their higher self and helps generate honest conversations about what gender balance means to all of us. It is also the reason why this year, I will be celebrating IWD, not at luxurious events, but practicing and sharing the technology of Kundalini Yoga with my community, friends and family and praying for internal balance and peace for all.